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I recently bought a milled pine log home built in 89'. The last owner didn't keep up with staining and caulking, leaving one exposed side weathered. While staining, I found a couple areas with severe rot and had it replaced. I have also found other areas that have very minor rot forming inside the log. My question is - in areas with minor log rot, will they continue to rot after properly caulking the checks and restaining? Or will the rot continue to grow after sealing the rot inside the log. If it matters, I live in northern OH. I've read rot won't grow unless its humid and warm enough. Thank you everyone, pardon my ignorance.

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Mr. Potter,

In general, Yes to answer your question. You need to treat the areas of rot with a wood borate prior to staining and sealing. Pine is very nutrient rich for bacterica to set up and cause rot.
I prefer to use a product from Permachink called Shell Guard RTU.
Hope this helps.

LHD Finishing



Depends upon moisture. Rot is caused by decay fungi. Any such fungus needs 4 things to thrive and cause rot. Those being food, oxygen, agreeable temperature and water.  Remove any of the four and you will stop the fungi. The food is the wood. Oxygen is in air. The temperatures needed for fungal growth are about the same as what we like. That leaves water.


The wood needs to be around 20% moisture content for fungi to grow. Get the m.c.  a few percentage points below that and the spores will remain dormant. The good news is that wood that is protected from rain will reach an equilibrium moisture content of about 12% in your area and stay about there year round. Too low for fungus to grow.


So, if your logs are constantly wetting and drying; yes you will have decay. If you keep them dry there will be none.


The other solution, and not as good as removing moisture, is to make the wood toxic to fungus. There are many wood preservatives that can do this. This something we do immediately after peeling. We apply a borate treatment to the green logs before storing and drying.


Bob Warren

Khita Log Builders Ltd.

Thanks for the info. Three sides of my house are protected by an overhang for a deck. Leaving one side, the rotting side exposed. Sounds like my best bet is to build an overhang for this side, and continue to caulk and stain properly. Is it too late to apply borate, since the house has already been stained a couple times? What tool would I use to check and monitor moisture. Thanks for all your help!



I'll agree that the best thing that you can do is to put a roof on that will keep it dry. I am not an expert on after the fact borate treatments but others who frequent this forum are. I suspect something like impel rods are your best bet.


Checking moisture is a bit difficult. Most moisture meters  only measure to about an inch deep. A meter with longer pins, I believe you can get up to 4" long is going to be pricey. I think those run in the $400 range. 


If you can keep the water off I doubt that you will have any more problems.


Bob Warren

Khita Log Builders Ltd.

Borates would have been nice if you could have applied them before the stain. We have applied borates using hyperdermic needles through bug holes and that is not going to get as good of coverage but its better than nothing. impel rods require a lot of moisture to distribute through the log. If you keep the logs sealed you should be alright. However we have replaced logs several times on one house but the home is directly on the ocean and receives a lot of moisture we havent found a good solution yet.
We can help with advice or services and are based in SW Ohio... happy to discuss with you.

 Thank you, I may try to get in contact with you come spring.

Will look forward to it. Keep in mind that everyone in our line of work gets busy when the weather warms up so plan accordingly. Best wishes, Wayne


We have known Wayne for many years. You are in very good hands with him.

Best of luck!


Beth Borrego

See Dirt Run! Inc. Log Home Maintenance & Restoration

Gordon ,

I agree with all the guys  and gals above . moisture is going to be your enemy. I would recommend  the borate rods  like "impel" or "cobra". that way if moisture does get in , and it will, it will take the borate with it and kill and fungi that it comes in contact with. Remember too, that an annual inspection. along with regular washing to remove dirts and pollins off your finish will make your home and the finish last. 


Tim Hamilton

All-Log llc

Thanks Beth. The folks at Permachink were complimenting you this week and thought you might want to know. Thanks again for the comment.

I have a quick question for long has it been since your logs have been stained or topcoated?  The reason why I ask is that just because the pigment in most finishes can "stain" the wood, doesn't mean a protecting film is present.  If you do not have a topcoat or film present, you may be at what we consider bare wood, and therefore it's not too late to apply a borate solution (after the current rot issue has been addressed of course).


You can test for this by taking a plant mister, or a water bottle, and spray the surface with just a light mist of water. If the wood darkens, that means you do not have a protecting film present, and whatever was applied before may have already burned off. Or, if the wood stays the same color, this means you still have a finish present, and it would have to be completely removed before you can apply a borate.


Of course there is many more variable and conditions that are to be taken into consideration but I figured this little bit could give you a jump start at least. 


Good luck to you and if you have any further questions I would be happy to help


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